Survey results show that almost half of Arizona residents in this age group are unprepared for the future.
We at Andrew Mathers Law wanted to know a little bit more about our neighbors, so we put together a survey asking Arizona residents if they have a will or trust. This survey, focusing on people at least 55 years old in Arizona, received a little over 1,500 responses, and gave us some alarming data to look at.
For reference, we decided to learn a bit more about Americans at large. According to a national survey conducted on behalf of Lawyers.com, a majority of Americans have no will. More specifically, 55% of respondents said as much.
53% of Arizonans who answered our survey have a will or trust, while 47% (we rounded up) do not. That means that 47% of Arizonans have no plan for their estate, leaving their families to pick up the pieces when the unthinkable happens. This also means their property is vulnerable to the courts.
We also found that on average, men are slightly more likely to have an estate plan than women, with 54% of men responding ‘yes’, compared to 53% of women responding ‘no’.
We decided to apply our findings to the state of Arizona as a whole. Based on 2019 demographic data, these findings indicate that over 700,000 Arizonans over 55 are without a will or trust.
Things get a little more optimistic when we take a look at respondents who are a bit older, aged 65+. 61% of those respondents said they do have a will or trust so that at least is a good sign that as Arizonans grow older, they start thinking more about their estate plan. Regardless, Arizonans are a bit more prepared than the average American.
How Does a Will or Trust Safeguard My Assets?
In short, a will (you might have heard it called a last will and testament) ensures that your wishes are carried out after you die. All of your possessions, including your car, bank account, even your pets, should be accounted for in your will so the courts know what to do with them, and who gets what.
Trusts are a little different. While wills say what to do with your assets when you pass away, trusts can protect those assets from taxes, limit the payout of those assets over a period of time, or keep your family from having to go through the often painful, and always complicated process of probate court.
What Happens if I Die Without a Will or Trust in Arizona?
If you pass away without an estate plan, you will have died “intestate.” In this case, Arizona law dictates how your property is distributed to your loved ones.